Beef – something so simple yet has become so complicated in recent years. Grass versus grain fed? To quote the great Austin Powers, “what does it all mean Basil?”. At 7K Ranch our beef features the best of both worlds.
In 2012, we featured the Texas Longhorn as our breed on the ranch – a very interesting animal to work with due to their energetic demeanour and intriguing physical appeal. Minus Cortez our Longhorn 7K mascot, we have chosen to raise Simmental-Angus Cross – a breed far more traditional to the Kaumeyer family. The docility of this breed makes handling safer, easier and more importantly, it’s proven to produce a premium beef.
This cross is based on the concept of ‘hybrid vigour’. Traits are taken from the Swiss Simmental bulls and combined with Scottish Angus cows to maximize the quality of both breeds. The steer calves on our operation are much more suited to the climate when compared to the Longhorn and have demonstrated that in the premium quality of the beef.
Max Kaumeyer with Cortez (our Longhorn) and Simmental-Angus Cross.
From day one, the calves are on pasture grass and are rotated from pasture to pasture depending on weather and precipitation rates. That, along with consistent grazing, greatly contributes to good pasture health. Once the calves reach the proper age and size they are introduced to grain. At this stage cattle physically cannot go from grass pasture to a 100% grain diet. They must be eased into the dietary shift for their own health and safety. This process can take weeks. Initially they are still on pasture grass but now they have access to a grain bunk near their water supply. As they become more acclimatized to the grain, the steers trade grass for hay as their source of roughage in their diet which is critical as well as the increase in access to the grain ration. This is the final diet in the steer’s life until they reach a desired size and weight.
Low-stress feeding – keeping cattle calm is better for their health.
The concentration of grain to roughage in most feedlots across Canada for finishing animals is 80% grain and 20% roughage. At 7K Ranch our animals never reach that ratio but the variety of feed alternatives serves them well. Like us cattle thrive on a balanced diet especially in climates with minus 30 degree winters. Our cattle have proven to gain very efficiently in the winter which is when most grass fed beef producers refrain from selling animals due to depleted fat on their cattle. If in sub zero temperatures cattle can gain weight, they stay warmer and thrive in the considerably less favourable climate.
An added benefit to this style of feeding is low stress handling. This leads to safety for both the animals and rancher. With consistent exposure to people the animals become less stressed and more comfortable during the pen moving process and when transporting the cattle. Injuries can take place while handling stressed animals and the potential is greater with anxious cattle. Keeping cattle calm is better for the animal’s health, the meat quality and the safety of the handler. Our 7K beef features a grass-fed upbringing on pastures partnered with the added benefits of a moderate grain finished diet. The tenderness of our cuts is attributed to the age, feed and preparation of the beef resulting in a premium product.
7K Ranch may be a small-scale but it still operates 24-hours-a-day. With livestock, pastures and gardens to care for, every day brings a new adventure.